Discovering that your young child has type 1 or type 2 diabetes can give rise to many emotions. You may feel angry, sad, upset, guilty, helpless or anxious, and you may worry whether you will be able to cope with the level of care your child will need every day.

Because your child is so young, you will have the responsibility for looking after his or her diabetes, which can make your job as a parent even more demanding. You are not alone, however. Many services are available to help you and your child learn more about diabetes and what you, and others who care for your child, need to do to manage the disease.

Adjusting to a diagnosis

Here are some suggestions to help you and your family adjust to a diagnosis of diabetes in your child:

  • Accept your child’s diagnosis without guilt. While no one really knows what causes type 1 diabetes, we do know it is not caused by eating too much sugar and there is nothing you could have done to prevent the disease, even if you had taken your child to see the doctor sooner.
  • Learn as much as you can about diabetes. The more you learn, the less fear you will have and the more comfortable you will be in caring for your child. Your knowledge and confidence will help your child feel more secure.
  • Take your child to see his or her diabetes health-care professional on a regular basis to discuss your child’s growth, development and diabetes management.
  • If you haven’t been introduced to the pediatric diabetes team, ask for a referral. You and your child will benefit tremendously from the wisdom and experience of a nurse, dietitian, social worker and physician with expertise in pediatric diabetes.
  • Make family communication a priority. Your child’s diagnosis affects everyone in the family, but not everyone will respond in the same way. Talking to each other about these feelings - whether fear, sadness, anger, even jealousy - will help your family come to terms with your new life with diabetes. Don’t forget to share your own emotions with someone who understands, such as another parent of a child with diabetes or your health-care professional.
  • Be prepared to answer other people’s questions about your child’s diabetes. You might want to research some stock answers to common questions such as ‘What’s diabetes?’ ‘How did he get it?’, or ‘Will she grow out of it?’ If people try to give you advice, you could answer, ‘Thank you, I’ll think about that,’ or ‘I’ve been told diabetes is very individual.’ You may sometimes receive conflicting advice from other people. Talk this through with your diabetes health professional to see how it relates specifically to your child.
  • Take time for family fun. While diabetes is now part of your life, it is not your - or your child’s - entire life.